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Demands to 'scrap the pay cap' as inflation at four-year high

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Inflation is at a four-year high of 2.9% Inflation is at a four-year high of 2.9%

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called for the pay cap on nurses’ wages to be lifted after it was revealed inflation has hit a four-year high and continues to outpace pay growth.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed inflation running at 2.9% in May this year, as pay growth slowed to 1.7%.

Nurses’ pay rises have been capped at 1% for the past seven years, leading to several nursing groups considering or announcing protest action.

READ MORE: Pay restraint: Time for action?

RCM director of policy, employment relations and communications Jon Skewes has now called for the cap to be discontinued and for pay to be increase for nurses and midwives beyond the rate of inflation to bring wages back in step with living standards.

He said: ‘This rise will be yet another blow to hard-working midwives and other NHS staff who have suffered years of pay freezes and pay restraint, many of whom are now many thousands of pounds worse off because of this.

‘It outlines even more why this government need to remove the 1% pay cap they have imposed on NHS staff, so that we can see our midwives rewarded fairly for the work they do.

‘It's not good enough though just to discontinue the 1% pay policy for the NHS. Improved pay must be funded, increases will need to exceed inflation and the NHS Pay Review Body will need to be enabled to deal with the catch up.’

READ MORE: Primary care nurses 'must make their voices heard'

The figures also flagged up concerns from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across the country who predicted shrinkage in how much a pound of their budgets would be worth.

Predictions show by 2019/20 CCGs will be able to get £5.72 less per person out of the money they spend on average compared to 2016/17. This equates to a £330 million reduction in the national CCG budget. On top of this, they will also have further direct and indirect pressures including increasing demand for services and an ageing population.

NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) has now called for money designate by the government for the NHS to be allocated into CCG budgets for the next two years – 2018/19 and 2019/20.

READ MORE: PM blames 'complex reasons' for nurses using food banks

NSHCC finance forum chair Andrew Pepper said: ‘CCGs have a lot of pressures on them over the next three years, among them rising demand and an ageing population with more complex needs. As our analysis shows today, this is at a time where based on current plans the value of the CCG pound is shrinking.

‘However, we know that additional funding will not be enough to alleviate all the pressures on the NHS – to stop the difficult decisions clinical commissioners are making sliding into impossible choices, we need realism about what the NHS can deliver, support for local decision-making and ring-fenced funding for transformation.’

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